Thursday Bookshelf: American Theocracy: The Peril and Politics of Radical Religion, Oil, and Borrowed Money in the 21st Century

As we discussed two weeks ago, former Republican strategist Kevin Phillips, the architect of Richard Nixon’s 1968 Presidential Election victory has a uniquely intellectual perspective on the Bush family. Two years after penning American Dynasty: Aristocracy, Fortune, and the Politics of Deceit in the House of Bush Phillips expanded on that work with American Theocracy: The Peril and Politics of Radical Religion, Oil, and Borrowed Money in the 21st Century.

The work is ironic in the sense that just under forty years earlier, it was Phillips who has helped convinced Nixon who had run as more of a moderate to liberal Republican in 1960 the value of cultural conservatism when appealing to disaffected Democrats in the Sun Belt and western states. But the passage of time saw Phillips vision of a Republican Party that appealed to religious voters but continued to be a mainstream national party turn into a regional one dominated by religion.

This book is really in many ways a sequel to American Dynasty. Focusing on the Bush family and the deepening ties between President George W. Bush and religious conservatives, Phillips makes a case that religion dictated Bush’s most controversial moves in the White House. The scaling back of environmental regulations, Middle Eastern wars, social policy and even economic policies were largely dictated by the alliance between the White House and religious leaders.

Phillips even theorizes that Bush himself had replaced the likes of Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell as the most influential religious figure among conservative voters nationally. Much of the narrative revolves around a cult of personality that Bush developed while policy makers around him used his communication skills and comfort with religious voters to push a dangerous agenda.

The case is also made that the Bush family connections to oil sheikhs in the Middle East which has ushered in a generation of constant warfare in the region involving American troops is connected to religious roots and a shared vision of nation-states as Petrocracies (I would argue that this has happened now with Vladimir Putin’s Russia as well). Militarism is a fundamental aspect of petroleum fueled nations where the need to create constant pressure points and warfare is a means to keep the ruling class in power.

A mounting Federal debt was a bi-product of the Bush wars but as Phillips argues, the religious orientation of the Bush Administration made this a non-concern as the perils borrowed money has no relevance in a budding theocracy.

While the title of Phillips book might seem over the top, the narrative is not. Like anything written by Kevin Phillips, this book is highly recommended.



  1. […] reviewed here on the “Bush Dynasty” and the politics of the American wealthy and the developing theocracy that appeared during the 2000’s , Phillips makes any subject interesting. The former […]


  2. […] we’ve reviewed here on the “Bush Dynasty” and the politics of the American wealthy and the developing theocracy that appeared during the 2000’s , Phillips makes any subject […]


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